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Over 800 workers stranded in Dubai

On April 3, 2020

Over 800 workers, including around 60 women, employed or recruited by Sea Bird Supermarket have been left stranded for more than a month in Dubai. All of them have paid between AED1000 and 3000 in hefty recruitment fees ('document fees') to the employer. 

Offer letter

Receipt for "document fees"

Workers say their initial dealings were with a Pakistani staff member who had collected the money from them. Speaking to MR, a worker representative says that the ordeal seems to be a case of outright recruitment fraud, as the supermarket is small and would not require 800 staff. The supermarket owners say that they had only recently acquired the property, and the worker's situation is the responsibility of the previous owner.

There are 300 workers from India, 200 from Nepal, around 200 from Pakistan, 50 from Sri Lanka and another 45 from African countries.  A large number of them are on visit visas. The UAE allows workers to enter the country on a visit visa and later convert it to a work visa. This often results in the exploitation of job seekers, apart from the fact that they have to pay separate amounts for the two visas.

About 25 of these workers are in a dire state and require immediate help, as they have no food or accommodation. Workers tried complaining to the police but the police said this was a labour case. When they tried filing a labour complaint, they were told this was a fraud case and only the police would be able to deal with them.

Especially in light of the COVID19 curfews and the ban on international travel, the workers require desperate help. The UAE government take action immediately to:

  1. Provide interim relief to help workers with supplies and accommodation
  2. Make sure the fees paid by them are reimbursed
  3. Facilitate repatriation of those who wish to go back. And allow those who wish to seek another opportunity locally to do so